Power Grid Virtualisation through Thin Edge Nodes

An increasingly complex Smart Grid requires two main aspects: visibility and, above all, the ability to automate decisions. This ability to make decisions autonomously is made possible through virtual applications on the edge nodes.

Smart Grid

Under the name of Next Energy, the Enertic meeting was held on 26 May to discuss the challenges and technological advances towards the sector's decarbonisation objectives. An event that brought together more than 100 people and in which David Purón, CEO of Barbara showed a Digital Twin of a self-consumption station.

We have repeatedly heard that electricity grids have to be modernised to be able to respond to the increasing electrification of the economy. While electricity consumption was estimated to be 30% by 2030, this ratio is set to be much higher, driven by current policy changes. There is therefore a sense of urgency for change that has to come from 3 areas: regulatory, financial (incentives such as Next Generation funds) and technology.

The Virtual Twin the path to network virtualisation

"To meet the 2030 climate and energy targets, Europe should focus funding on incremental improvements in mature technologies (digitised operation and maintenance) and grid integration and optimisation."

In the case of Digital Twin , although in the electricity sector it used to be called a simulation, a digital twin today is much more than a simulation. It is a relevant incremental improvement. A Digital Twin integrates many parts of the grid, it integrates not only generation, transmission and distribution but also the new agents of a Smart Grid and integrates everything in the same system.

What are the main challenges of this integration?


As we go down from High Voltage to Low Voltage, we lose visibility of what is happening in the network. Transformer substations have some visibility, but when we get to the consumption points, what we call behind-the-meter, we are all blind.

It is true that progress has been made with Smart Meters but there is still a long way to go because smart meters give the consumption but not the detail, the granularity of that consumption.

2. Empowering the network with autonomous decisions

By autonomous decisions we mean that the network can think for itself and with Artificial Intelligence this is possible. Through Digital Twins we provide networks not only with visibility but also with the ability for a digital twin to make autonomous decisions.

3. Cybersecurity

Before, power grids, industrial systems were totally isolated, what we used to call security by obscurity . Now we are connecting everything, either to the cloud, to the edge, connecting some points with others, and that opens holes that must be taken into account.

4.- The Sovereignty of Data

How we are able to exchange data between all these systems to give flexibility to the network.

Recommended reading: The Edge Computing revolution reaches the power sector

Thin Edge technology to providevisibility and automate all points in the network

In Barbara we propose the implementation of Thin Edge nodes in the different points of a Smart Grid. Through the Edge Platform like Barbara's we can, from a centralised point, deploy applications, and those applications are what we call virtualise. These applications can be protection and control algorithms, monitoring algorithms, energy balance algorithms, etc... In addition, in each edge node we can deploy up to 5 different applications from different authors and we are able to communicate one node with another so that we avoid centralised infrastructures with higher costs and security risks.

From a Hardware model to a Software model

Barbara's Edge Platform

We are moving from a model where the intelligence was in the industrial equipment, in the hardware, to a model where the intelligence resides in the software. This change does not happen overnight, but it is a change that is already happening.

An increasingly complex Smart Grid therefore requires two things: firstly, visibility and secondly, and more importantly, the ability to automate decisions. That ability to make decisions autonomously is done through virtual applications that go on the thin edge nodes. And Barbara offers the ability to give visibility to both TSOs, DSOs, IEDs and behind-the-meter companies. "We are that middleware that provides visibility and automation at all points in the grid and we believe that is the only way to bring flexibility to the power system. "David Purón, CEO of Barbara

If you want to know more contact us and request a free free consultancy.